Pence was accompanied on a tour of GM’s facilities in Kokomo, Indiana by transportation secretary Elaine Chao, Indiana governor Eric Holcomb, GM CEO Mary Barra and the White House business advisor Peter Navarro – who all wore masks.
Pence, who was previously governor of Indiana, heads the White House coronavirus task force.
He has previously stated that he does not need to wear a mask to avoid spreading an infection, despite federal health guidelines to the contrary, as he is regularly tested for coronavirus and found to be negative.
White House Pool
Health experts have disputed this idea, saying the tests are not always accurate and there is a risk that Pence may contract the coronavirus between tests.
The Mayo Clinic said it informed Pence staff before their visit on Tuesday that masks were needed for all visitors, staff and patients at its facility in Rochester, Minnesota, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Pence was surrounded by people, including patients and doctors, wearing masks when he visited there.
Vice President Mike Pence visits doctors and laboratory technicians during a tour of Mayo Clinic facilities supporting research and treatment for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Rochester, Minnesota, United States, April 28, 2020.
Nicholas Pfosi | Reuters
But Pence’s wife Karen said in a Fox News interview on Thursday that he didn’t learn the mask policy until after he left the clinic on Tuesday.
“As our medical experts have told us, wearing a mask prevents you from spreading the disease and knowing that he does not have COVID-19, he did not,” said Karen Pence on “Fox & Friends”.
Others, however, criticized Pence for possibly putting others at risk and at least for not acting as a good role model.
Jamie Gulley, president of the SEIU Healthcare Minnesota union, which represents thousands of Mayo Clinic workers, said in a statement: “When Vice President Mike Pence ignores safety policy and refuses to wear a face mask, he insults the hard work and sacrifice of all health care workers. “
“Worse, it puts these people, their patients and their families at risk,” said Gulley.
Dr Vin Gupta, pulmonologist and expert in global health policy who is an NBC News and MSNBC contributor, told NBC News that even if you do not have symptoms of Covid-19 but are infected “and have just had a conversation … you can easily spread the disease.”
“The vast majority of people we think are likely transmitters of the disease have no symptoms,” said Gupta. “You basically have a bunch of people who feel good and think they don’t have to follow the rules. “
President Donald Trump said earlier this month that the federal centers for disease control and prevention are urging all Americans to wear masks in public places to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.
But Trump has said he will not personally follow these guidelines.
“I just don’t want to wear one myself, it’s a recommendation,” said Trump.
“In a way, sitting in the oval office behind this beautiful Resolute desk, the big Resolute desk, I think wearing a mask to greet presidents, dictators, kings, queens, I don’t know, I don’t see it by myself. “
These are the latest news. Check back for updates.